Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji told a panel considering reforms to the election process that the Security Council should present a slate of candidates, rather than just one, to the General Assembly, which should elect one of them by two-thirds of the votes.

In election process that has been followed so far, the Security Council members-essentially the five veto-wielding permanent ones-agree on one candidate leaving it to the General Assembly to vote for or against the candidate.

 In practical terms though, the other UN members do not have a real choice and the General Assembly simply elects by acclamation the person anointed by the permanent members through their back-room deals.

This process was recommended as "desirable" in a 1946 General Assembly resolution, but was not mandatory. Mukerji said that resolution should be amended to incorporate the proposals he made.

"The United Nations faces its most serious tests both in terms of credibility and performance," Mukerji said, and the election of Ban's successor "gives us an historic opportunity to change and improve the existing selection process of the Secretary-General in the interests of the United Nations system in general, and the Assembly's prerogatives in particular."

For India, which has been campaigning against the concentration of powers in the hands of the Security Council, the forthcoming election is an opportunity to extend this mission.

"The Secretary-General is often unfortunately perceived to be a Secretary Council and the General Assembly," Mukerji said. "This perception has to be reversed."

He said that qualifications required of the candidates should be transparently drawn up and these should include "commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter, extensive leadership, administrative and diplomatic experience.

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